Leah Vaughn (Sanaa Lathan) is a successful California lobbyist whose relationship with her boyfriend Dave (Morris Chestnut) has ended due to him not being ready to commit to the married-with-kids life that she longs to have. Before you can see “rebound”, Leah is swept off her feet by the infinitely charming Carter Duncan (Michael Ealy). He’s sexy, smooth, sophisticated, kisses her father Roger’s (Charles S. Dutton) ass with behind-the-plate seats to a San Francisco Giants game, and can turn sex in a dumpy alleyway club bathroom into paradise. You could say he’s the perfect guy.
Or perhaps even… God himself.
But then before one of Leah’s smitten friends can finish, “He might be the perfect guy!!”, something inside Carter instantly snaps, and he furiously beats a guy he thinks is hitting on his girl. Naturally, Leah is just a tad bit shaken up by the event, and decides to end the relationship. Carter, however, in a carefully thought-out and rational move, decides that if he can’t have Leah… no one will.
Remember Fatal Attraction? Remember the iconic performance Glenn Close gave (I’m not gonna be ignoooored, Dan!)? We’re talking talking one of the most iconic onscreen psychos in film history. But as thrilling as Fatal Attraction still is, its success following its release unfortunately gave way to a stanky swarm of cheap, straight-to-video, late-night Cinemax/Lifetime shitty erotic thriller knockoffs. Take out the performances, the thrills, and the eroticism and you have The Perfect Guy.
What’s aggravating about this movie is that it contains elements that could’ve made for a fun, erotic thriller. It features three talented lead stars – the lovely Sanaa Lathan, Michael Ealy and Morris Chestnut (who will forever remain the ill-fated Ricky Baker in my heart) and the sleek, polished cinematography by Peter Simonite makes much of the use of shadows and ominous, dimly lit settings. The atmosphere is there and the cast is fully capable, but The Perfect Guy is tragically hampered by a script that reads like a 12-year-old’s take on every single stalker thriller that has come before it.
It really is amazing at just how much effort this film puts into not distinguishing itself in any way from any other film of its kind. I’m reminded of that Nickelback experiment done years ago by Canadian musician Mikey Smith where he combined “How You Remind Me” and “Someday” to prove the similarity of the band’s songs. The result was“How You Remind Me of Someday”. I have feeling if you overlapped The Perfect Guy over Jennifer Lopez’s The Boy Next Door, you probably wouldn’t be able to spot too many differences.
Don’t worry, the beloved pet doesn’t die this time around, and is instead kept by the villain. I’m pretty sure the filmmakers didn’t intend to make him look like Dr. Claw as he pets his newfound pet kitty while watching surveillance of his prey, but intentions and end results are two entirely different things.
“I’ll get you next time, Leah… next time… MEEEEOOOOOOOOWWWW!!!!!!!!”
It’s not that this couldn’t have been trashy fun, but the problem is that this is a thriller without any thrills, though we do get plenty of repetitive reminders of restraining orders that don’t seem to work and inept detectives constantly telling the victims, “Whelp… There’s only so much I can do” and “Hey, my hands are tied.”
Adding insult to injury is writer Tyger Williams’s treatment of his three lead characters. To say Lathan, Ealy and Chestnut (utterly wasted as a cardboard version of Leah’s knight in shining armor) are disserviced by the zero signs of intelligence found in the roles they get is an understatement. Taking the cake is Lathan, whose Leah gives oblivious a whole new meaning. After clearly being frightened to death by the sight of Carter appearing at a restaurant she and Dave are at, an already terrifying moment for her that’s only compounded by the confrontation between the two men, she later acts as if nothing happened when Dave asks if she’d be more comfortable staying with him for the night and she just casually says she’ll be fine on her own. You know, ’cause there isn’t a crazy stalker obsessively following her every move.
Oh, and congrats on changing your cell and home phone numbers, Leah. You pissed off an IT guy, so he’ll have you figured out in no time.
It’s a miracle how she lasts as long as she does in the movie. It’s an even bigger, Grand Canyon-sized leap of faith to see her switch from whimpering victim to gun-toting badass.
As for Ealy (who, along with Joy Bryant, was one of the strengths of last year’s About Last Night remake), seeing a talented actor like he is play an unhinged psycho might’ve been fun if the material was there for him. But Williams rushes any arc the character could’ve been given, having him snap from shoo-in for sainthood to slow-motion revenge push-upping, obligatory parking garage hiding antichrist at the snap of a finger with a weak motive (seriously, the gas station guy was hitting on the car more than the girlfriend) and backstory to back it all up. At times, Rosenthal masks Ealy behind hallway shadows to make him look like a slasher villain a la Michael Myers. The mood appears to capture it nicely. Carter’s actions, however, most notably a giggle-inducing moment where he’s sucking on Leah’s toothbrush to feel close to her, not so much.
Despite its technical merits and boasting three charming leads, The Perfect Guy is a dull Fatal Attraction retread that adds nothing new to the narrative, and is simply content to just recycle every one of the genre’s cliches, wasting the talent of its stars and dragging us viewers down to Lifetime stalker/love triangle hell as it does so. At the very least, you may be afforded some unintended hilarity at the expense of the script’s overwhelming stupidity. Of course, that’s if its overwhelming laziness hasn’t already put you to sleep.
I give The Perfect Guy a D (★).